Does Days Missing, the new comic book from Roddenberry Productions, live up to the high points of Gene Roddenberry's legacy on the original Star Trek? Well, almost... if only we had a better idea of what was actually going on.
There's a lot of potential in the opening of Days Missing, but there's also a nagging feeling that that's all it is: potential. Don't get me wrong; the issue reads and looks - especially looks, with some amazing art from Frazer Irving - fine, and there's enough of a plot in there to make it a fulfilling "done-in-one" story. What there isn't, however, is enough of an introduction to the overall concept of the series, and that lack of introduction, of explanation, renders the climax of the issue as frustratingly confusing as it is tantalizingly mysterious.
What we do get, however, is a story told from the point of view of a man whose name may or may not be Steward - who is both immortal and most likely not a man at all, but some kind of supernatural force or entity that appears in moments of evolutionary importance - that isn't really about Steward but about the way that various people react to a viral outbreak that could destroy the world, and the price paid for a cure. As befits the Roddenberry name, there's a certain Star Trek episode quality about it, with moral dilemmas solved in part by deus ex machinas in order to complete everything in the allotted running time, but with enough implied or left unresolved to leave some food for thought, as well.
In some ways, I wish there had been more space available for the story, which could've easily filled another issue of the same length. As good as it is, Phil Hester's writing - Steward's purple prose narration (even though it's fitting, given the probable pretension of an immortal) aside - feels almost cramped and rushed at times, and I would've liked to have seen more time spent with the doctors and scientists looking for a cure in order to give the resolution some more weight. The speed, and style, of the writing are very reminiscent of an hour-long TV drama: Slick, smart but full of people telling you that everything's important instead of you feeling that for yourself.
It's a good thing, then, that Irving's art is so strong; what Hester doesn't have time for, Irving is able to at least hint at, whether it's with the acting of the characters or his impressive (and atmospheric) color choices. The art raises the writing amazingly in parts, giving flashbacks an epic sweep that is otherwise missing, and making Steward an unworldly outsider instead of just the surly emo narrator he could've been in other hands. In a book that's well-done and professional, Irving is easily the MVP.
Overall, it's a nice, if frustrating, opener. If this was a television show, without a month between episodes or a $3.99 price tag each time, I'd be much more enthusiastic, but as it is...? I'll definitely be picking up the second issue, but doing so hoping for more than I got this time around - More to Steward's role in the grand scheme of things, definitely, but also more to the meat of the story that he'll have stepped into, as well. An apocalyptically bad plague is a good start, but what else is there?
Days Missing #1 is released to comic book stores today. Here's a preview of what you'll see in the opening: